WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With spring break wrapping up, Wichita Public Schools are preparing to welcome students back to in-person learning on Monday. Starting this week, students who want to go back to the classroom five days a week can. 

It’s been more than a year since USD 259 teachers have seen a full classroom. Three hundred eighty-one days to be exact. Krystal Atkinson and Cheryl Witt say they’re excited to see their students, but they’re still feeling mixed emotions. 

“It’s kind of like the first day of school all over again because these are children that you’ve only seen through computer,” Atkinson, a North High language arts teacher and senior class sponsor said. 

“We will have to teach both in-person students as well as virtual students,” Witt said, Northeast Magnet High history and law magnet department chair said. “So making certain that we’re ensuring both sides aren’t getting shortchanged I think is going to be a huge obstacle for teachers.” 

Atkinson says she doesn’t think social distancing and mask-wearing will be an issue with all students returning to the classroom. She says students are just as concerned as adults.    

“They’re going to be taking precautions as well in order to make sure that they remain healthy and don’t take sicknesses back to their families because we don’t know who they live with,” Atkinson said. 

Witt says her students are being responsible too.   

“Students for the most part seem to be following the directions of wearing their mask and sitting at the table, going outside the classroom if they need to take a drink of water,” Witt said.  

Wearing masks and social distancing is a district requirement. Northeast Magnet even added an additional lunch hour to make sure students will be able to eat socially distant. 

Atkinson says the rollercoaster year has been difficult so both educators know that face-to-face interaction is as important to them as it is their students.  

“It just really changes the dynamics for I think a lot of kids,” Witt said. 

The district gave families the option to finish out the school year learning remotely, but students can return to in-person learning whenever they decide.